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A Black Indian Chief?
The Question of James Beckwourth

"It is assumed that he spent his early years as a slave, but by the time he reached adulthood he was already a free black man, and in November 1824 he was able to join the famed William Ashley on one of his many fur-trapping expeditions to the Rocky Mountains."

What is the truth about Beckwourth original status?

In his history it is clearly stated that he was born half white to his master father by his negro slave mother. His illustrated and photographed images are clearly mulatto, in keeping with his history. However, our view of him is as a pure negro, a black man and a slave, despite the fact that he was born in an era when to be a mulatto was to be a member of a group apart, who might become a time serving servant, a free man and even a slave owner. 14 years before James birth a half black woman purchased an Irish girl in Carolina and took her to Spanish Louisiana where she tortured and beat her to death.

Beckwourth was in fact "freed by his father (and master) and apprenticed [sold] to a blacksmith..."

However, we cannot know this, for we live beyond the veil of lies that began with the one drop rule, that one 17th or more of African blood cursed a man to be 100% African. In that we still, as a nation, believe and embrace this lie as just, how can we even be trusted to read a clear and true history accurately, let alone read a man's story written for those who knew the truth of things and therefore did not stop and explain every item as if to a kindergarten students?

Most importantly, Beckwourth was a man.

Secondly he was a hero.

Thirdly he earned the position of a chief among The Sacred Raven tribe.

Fourthly, his father was an English-Irish mix, possibly the product himself, of slave rape.

Fifthly, Beckwourth was set free by his father, whose relationship to his mother seems unclear and may have been a discrete rejection of social convention in the form of a willing union.

The point is, although Beckwourth is touted as being most importantly black [he was not], what should be most important to the modern reader is that James Beckwourth left the slave matrix of America—where masters were and remain shackled to the system as surely as their chattel—put the life of a dark-skinned crazy person behind him, and was accepted as a warrior and chief [a hero according to our understanding of such things] by an authentic tribe of human beings, a tribe that punched far above their weight in the struggle to survive on the Great Plains, high deserts and rocky mountains of the Last Human Frontier before the machine took over. Like many pathfinders, Beckwourth literally lead the way and served as the spear tip, for the unmanning order which he spent the majority of his life leaving behind.

Of note is that the illustrations in this book depict Beckworth at various ages, with varying degrees of accuracy, and depict the Crows in varying degrees of inaccuracy. The European look of these Indians and particularly the hair styles, belong east of the Mississippi.

As far as a black Indian chief, the one I do know of was Billy Bowlegs of the Seminoles, against whom Beckwourth campaigned.

The Lies That Bind Us

The Foundational Falsehoods of the American Dream

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